If you’re thinking about buying a home, the first thing you should do is focus on exactly what you're looking for. Start by establishing your priorities in these three areas:
- Location: How will the location of schools, shops and transportation affect your choice of neighborhoods?
- Personal tastes: How large a home do you need? What style of architecture do you prefer? On what kind of lot?
- Budget: How much home is wise for you to own?
When you have gone over the above steps then you and I can sit down together, go over your goals, budget and time frame. As an experienced agent I will give you the information and next steps you need, like getting pre-approved by a local lender in order to start looking at homes. Remember, it is important to be represented by an agent. In Texas, the buyer is not represented until they higher an agent to be their buyer representative. Buyers generally do not pay the real estate commissions so it is at no cost to the buyer to hire representation. Also remember when wanting to buy new construction you also need to be represented by your own buyers agent. The sales person at the new home sales center represents the builder and is working to get the best deal for the builder. It is a myth that builder do not give as good of incentives or come down off prices for buyers that are working with real estate agents.
Resources and Tools
On the road: looking at homes
When you go out to look at homes, we suggest bringing the following items along:
- Notebook and pen for note-taking
- Flashlight for seeing enclosed areas
- Tape measure for checking room sizes, clearance, etc.
- Camera to help you remember details about the home
I will provide detailed information about each home you see.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have – about specific rooms, features or functions. Pay particular attention to areas that could become problematic, such as additions, defects and areas that have been repaired. As a potential buyer, you have the right to know.
If you want to go back to a home for another look, I will be happy to schedule an appointment.
Questions to ask when looking at a home
People buy homes for many reasons: to be closer to their jobs, get extra space for a growing family, downsize, or other lifestyle changes. With your own reasons in mind, consider the following questions:
- Is there enough room for you now and in the near future?
- Is the home's floor plan right for your family?
- Is there enough storage space?
- Will you have to replace the appliances?
- Is the yard the right size for you?
- Are there enough bathrooms?
- How much maintenance or upgrading will you need to do right away or later?
- Will your furniture work in this home?
Making an Offer on a Home
Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in buying, we will sit down and discuss making an offer.
Typically, I will provide you with a market analysis for the micro area you are looking into purchasing in order to obtain a fair value of the home. Then we will discuss:
- The amount you are willing to pay
- Mortgage amount
- Closing and occupancy dates
- Personal property included or excluded (appliances, lighting fixtures, etc.)
- Contingencies, such as obtaining a mortgage, building inspections and pest inspections, including (where appropriate): termite, pest, radon, water quality, well, lead, septic, oil tank, etc.
If the offer is not acceptable to the seller, further negotiations may be necessary to reach terms that are agreeable to both buyer and seller. Counter-offers are common, so it is important that you remain in close contact with me during the negotiation process to quickly review and respond to proposed changes.
Between Contract and Closing
You will be required to meet certain deadlines in the contract including depositing earnest money, home inspections and negotiating repairs. Also, the lender will need to be notified and sent a copy of the contract in order to start the mortgage process to meet the closing date.
- Are all the necessary inspections complete?
- Are all the required repairs complete?
- When will you conduct your final walk-through inspection?
- Have you confirmed a date, time and place for your closing with the title company that was designated in the contract?
- Is your insurance policy paid and ready to go into effect the day you close? (You'll need a receipt for proof.)
- What form of payment should you use to pay closing costs?
- 3 days before closing you the closing agent will send you your closing cost amount.
- Do you have receipts for the items you have already paid for, including your deposit and inspection fees?
- Do you have your checkbook to cover any last-minute extras that might have been overlooked?
- Do you have your drivers license to bring to the closing?
What to Expect at the Closing
Closing is a formal process where all parties sign the necessary paperwork to complete the transaction and transfer the property’s title from the seller to you. The seller receives payment for the home, and you receive the house keys! From the amount credited to the seller, the title representative subtracts the funds to pay off the existing mortgage and other transaction costs. Deeds, loan papers and other documents are prepared, signed, and ultimately filed with local property record office.
- You will sign the mortgage. This gives the lender legal rights to the property if you don't make your payments.
- You will sign the mortgage note, which is the promise to repay the loan in regular monthly payments.
- You will get title from the seller in the form of a signed deed.
- The lender's representative will collect the closing costs from you and give you a settlement statement of all the items you have paid for.
- The deed and mortgage will be recorded in the town or county Registry of Deeds by the title company that will come to your mailbox at a later date.
- If you have additional questions about the closing process, talk with your agent or your closing agent or your loan officer.
Once you have the keys, you'll want to have the locks changed. Also, put your deed and other important paperwork from the closing in a secure place, preferably a safe deposit box. Even though it's all on file with the county, it's smart to know where your copies are and have access to them at all times.